How an idyllic farmhouse empowers a community

June 19, 2019

Little Reed, an eco-friendly restaurant in a Lebanese farmhouse, is all ready for its new season. In partnership with Hivos and Alliance 2015, this idyllic spot is generating job opportunities for a growing number of women and youth.

Surrounded by an organic farm, Little Reed is a weekend buffet restaurant that caters to tourists exploring the food traditions of the area. All dishes are prepared by women from the village, and typical Lebanese produce is for sale. Children can run around a playground and take part in farming activities and agricultural learning experiences.

The farm is deeply rooted in the surrounding community. And that local community is the key to its success. Or as Elissa Cortas, owner of Little Reed explains, “Looking back at the past two months, the first thing I can see is the commitment of the community. That spirit is feeding our growth.”

ARC program

Building resilient communities with home cooking

Cortas’ business is also able to give something back: she helps build a resilient community in turn. Located in the Mount Lebanon mountain range, the unemployment rates in Qsaybeh village are high, especially for women. That’s why Hivos’ ARC (Addressing Root Causes) program supports Little Reed. With ARC, we aim to advance the economic participation of vulnerable communities.

Like the women who earn an income cooking at Little Reed, the restaurant’s young waiters also come from the village. Since the seasonal reopening in April, six young men and women have joined the environmental activity and table-waiting teams. According to Cortas, “they all are eager to be part of our future.”

ARC program

Expanding the business

Just in the last couple of months, Little Reed has welcomed hundreds of guests. This not only keeps the restaurant staff employed, but benefits the entire area because all ingredients are bought from village artisans and suppliers. Recently, Little Reed has started expanding its ecotourism and farming activities, which should create more jobs. It also participates in local events hosted by international organizations such as USAID, FAO and ILO.

Through ARC, Hivos provided Little Reed with kitchen equipment and funded renovation work. And that’s not all. Cortas: “Thanks to the training sessions we have received, we are now equipped to cater private, tailor-made events. We have already registered bookings for brunches and birthdays.” In addition, Cortas is preparing to host evening concerts that will expand Little Reed’s opening hours, further benefiting her team and allowing staff expansion.

The ARC Program

Elissa Cortas is proud to have been selected by Hivos to be part of ARC. “We will surely put all our time, effort and expertise into creating as many jobs in our village as possible,” she promises. The ARC program, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, fosters the economic inclusion of vulnerable communities by providing coaching and counseling to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). ARC also connects these companies to business development services and supports artisanal sectors. Hivos is implementing the program in Beirut and Mount Lebanon.

Little Reed Kitchen